Small moments and big rewards

Those who educate children well are more to be honoured than they who produce them; for these only gave them life, those, the art of living well.

Aristotle

Whether you agree with Aristotle or not, pretty much everyone acknowledges that it’s the teachers who make a school.  Kew Primary currently has 29 classroom and specialist teachers who between them teach grades Prep to 6, PE, Art, French, Performing Arts, Library, Reading Recovery, Literacy Support, English as an Additional Language, and who provide support to students with special needs.

They range from the young and enthusiastic to the more mature and experienced (and still enthusiastic!) Our longest serving teachers are Ali Duffy and Faye Rodgers who have been with the school 20 years. (Faye still has her very first lesson plan, hand-written in beautiful copperplate script, but that’s a story for another time).

The Department of Education groups teachers into three different bands: Graduate, Accomplished and Expert and at Kew we have teachers from all categories with most in the Expert band where teachers have at least 10 years’ experience.

Our staff comes from the city and the country, from Victoria and interstate, and from a range of different cultural backgrounds including: Italian, English, Aboriginal, Greek, Maori, Irish and New Zealander.

This week the KPS Blog decided we wanted to find out a little more about our teachers and so we sent our roving reporter, Nikki McConnen to talk to her son’s Grade 2 teacher, Clio Williams.

Hi Clio, why did you decide to become a primary school teacher?

I was a swimming teacher for eight years, teaching babies through to adults. I loved teaching primary-age children. I came to teaching through a post grad course at Deakin University. My grandmothers on both sides, and aunts on both sides, were teachers so it may be in the blood!

You’ve been teaching at Kew Primary for a few years now, but prior to that we knew you as a very popular relief teacher for our performing arts classes. Do you have a performance background?

I did dance and drama at university. I love performing and have done numerous shows at the Melbourne Fringe, the Writer’s Festival and other Melbourne events.

You’re also part of the school’s ICT Team – what does that entail?

We implemented an iPad program for years 3 – 6, and have regular ‘Tekkie Brekkies’ for staff. I find new apps, and work with staff if any problems or issues arise.

What do you like about Kew Primary?

I love the enthusiasm of the children. I have taught most of the juniors now and they are so keen to learn and improve their skills that they make my job easy. The staff is innovative, enthusiastic and supportive, which has meant that I raise the bar higher for my own practice. I love teaching in an open classroom; it’s a great way to work. Parents and guardians are willing to help out in the classroom, even at the last minute and this strengthens the connection between home and school. I don’t want to teach in isolation; I believe it’s a partnership.

Did you have a favourite or influential teacher when you were a kid?

I had many favourite teachers, I loved them all, but I was a bit of a teacher’s pet! I had a really influential Politics and SOSE teacher. She spurred me on to read ‘Animal Farm’, ‘1984’ and other books that radically changed my teenage world view. She shaped my subject choices at VCE and university.

What is the most rewarding thing about your job? And what is the most frustrating?

I find the most rewarding moments are often the smallest – an offhand comment that sparks a whole class discussion, or a child’s interest that unites the classroom – they’re moments I love. And the smiles I see when they are learning something satisfying.

I get frustrated, like most people do, with ‘to do’ lists that get bigger the closer you get to weekend! (Oh, and meetings that drag on.) My biggest frustration is when I have days where I don’t feel I’ve made a difference.

If the school got a sudden windfall what would you spend it on?

If the school got a sudden windfall I would spend it on more teachers! You can never have enough in a school. I would also get iPads in the junior school area, and apple TVs in every room, finish the kitchen garden…and maybe French ‘research trips’ for the staff!

What’s your all-time favourite book?

So many! I love the children’s book ‘The Ordinary Princess’, and my ‘Cook’s Companion’ by Stephanie Alexander – and anything written by Terry Prattchet.

And what’s your perfect holiday?

A quiet, peaceful place with gorgeous views. People, if I want a chat, and books if I want solitude. Somewhere with family.

And to finish, tell us one thing that we don’t know about you.

I’m a closet Chris De Burgh fan!

Thanks Clio.

Next year we are hoping to talk to more of the people with whom our kids spend much of their day.

Thanks for listening.

Jacqui Tomlins and Nikki McConnen

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